Melodee Hanes: No Comment
By Ryan J. Reilly | December 11, 2009 6:20 pm
Melodee Hanes at a ceremony Friday in the Great Hall of the RFK Justice Building (Photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

Melodee Hanes at a ceremony Friday at Department of Justice headquarters (photo credit: Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

Melodee Hanes, the girlfriend of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), attended a ceremony at Department of Justice headquarters Friday honoring newly confirmed Office of Justice Programs head Laurie Robinson.

Hanes, a political appointee who works in a juvenile justice agency under Robinson’s direction, declined to answer questions about the senator’s controversial recommendation of her to be Montana’s U.S. Attorney.

“Not today, no,” Hanes told Main Justice. “No comment today,” she added, before a congressional affairs specialist from the Office of Justice Programs, Sarah Matz, cut off the exchange.

Main Justice was the first to report last Friday that Hanes was one of three lawyers that Baucus recommended to the White House earlier this year to be Montana’s top federal prosecutor. According to Baucus, once their relationship became more intense, Hanes withdrew from consideration to live with the senator in Washington.

President Barack Obama ultimately nominated Michael Cotter for Montana U.S. Attorney. Baucus, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, is leading health care reform efforts in the Senate.

Hanes is now acting Deputy Administrator for Policy in the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, an arm of the Justice Department that supports research, training and programs to support juvenile justice programs throughout the country.

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One Comment

  1. Roybean says:

    THIS FROM TIME.COM. 12/0709:
    Hanes was relatively new to Montana, having moved to Billings from Iowa in 1999 with her then husband, Dr. Paul Bennett. Bennett had been state medical examiner and she was an assistant county prosecutor in Polk County, Iowa. But a legal controversy pursued him into Montana. His testimony had help lead to the imprisonment of a young Iowa couple accused of shaking their baby to death in 1997. The couple was later freed after Bennett’s autopsy report and his methods were discredited by peer-reviewing pathologists. The prosecution then moved for dismissal of charges. (Bennett’s Iowa controversy was reported in-depth by the Los Angeles Times in July 1999.)

    Hanes had made her own reputation in Iowa as an aggressive prosecutor of child abuse charges. The July 1999 Los Angeles Times story has her laughing at public speculation in Iowa that she unduly influenced Bennett’s diagnoses. But a 2007 federal appeals court opinion on a 1995 Iowa shaken-slammed baby murder case said that she had improperly ordered medical evidence in the case withheld from the defense, and, in a note, observed that “the evidence of Dr. Bennett’s marriage to prosecutor Hanes should have been permitted at trial to imply bias.” The appeals court judges said that while that relationship did not ultimately “prejudice the result” of the trial (which they upheld); yet they observed that “every court that has reviewed this case has been struck by certain aspects of the trial and actions of prosecutors that violate the fundamental notions of fair play on which our legal system is based.”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1946040,00.html#ixzz0ZUsDesOt